Mill-owner and philanthropist. Born in Stewarton (East Ayrshire), the son of a grocer. Dale took on a weaving apprenticeship in Paisley, but moved to Glasgow at the age of 24, setting up business as a textile manufacturer. Dale was successful and became a noted member of the Scottish financial community having been appointed the first Glasgow agent of the Royal Bank of Scotland in 1783 and also marrying the daughter of one of the Bank's directors.
Dale met the Englishman Richard Arkwright, who pioneered industrial spinning, and built cotton mills across Scotland. Dale opened mills in Catrine (East Ayrshire), Blantyre (South Lanarkshire), Newton Stewart (Dumfries and Galloway), Oban (Argyll and Bute), Stanley (Perth and Kinross) and Spinningdale (Sutherland). His son-in-law, Robert Owen (1771 - 1858), who became the utopian pioneer of the co-operative movement, partnered him in running his most famous mill at New Lanark, the new-town experiment in social engineering which Dale created in 1785.
Dale also became a preacher and having disagreements with the established church, founded his own, the 'Old Independent'.
At 60 years of age, Dale bought the estate of Rosebank near Cambuslang, and began to sell his mills, with Owen purchasing New Lanark. Dale died at Rosebank and lies buried in the kirkyard of the Ramshorn Church in Glasgow.